Thursday, June 25, 2009

Why Interchange Fees Should Come Down

Felix Salmon writes that he believes Interchange Fees Should Come Down in an article he wrote for Seeking Alpha:  Here's an excerpt:
Juan Lagorio is right. The various proposed bills regulating interchange fees — the fees that merchants pay whenever a customer uses a credit card to pay for something — could definitely hurt Visa (V) and Mastercard (MA), despite the fact that Visa and Mastercard don’t actually charge those fees and claim that they would not be impacted by the legislation.

How do we know that Visa and Mastercard are worried? Well, for one thing, Shawn Miles, the head of global public policy at Mastercard, has written an essay arguing against them:

No matter how loudly the big box merchants claim the mantle of “Protector of Consumer Interests,” granting big box merchants a collusionary antitrust exemption will have the opposite effect: less credit availability, higher prices, and reduced choice for consumers.

Miles points to the precedent of Australia, which saw credit-card fees rise after the government mandated lower interchange fees. But the post hoc ergo propter hoc argument is weak: For-profit card companies will naturally raise fees as much as they can no matter how much or how little money they make on interchange. It’s the same mechanism driving penalty rates of interest. And indeed the base case in the US is for a slow yet inexorable rise in interchange fees: One purpose of this legislation is to try and put an end to interchange-fee inflation (up 14% last year to about $48 billion, averaging an eye-popping 1.75% of total purchases).

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Sheets to Offer First Data GO-Tag at 250 Locations

Sheetz Offers Latest Payment Technology from First Data
Submitted by PIN Payments Blog on June 25, 2009

The GO-Tag Contactless Payment Sticker to Be Introduced at All 350 Convenience Store Locations

DENVER--( Data, a global leader in electronic commerce and payment processing services, today announced Sheetz, Inc. as a new customer of the First Data® GO-TagTM payment technology solution. The GO-Tag solution is First Data’s latest innovation that allows consumers to make purchases simply by tapping their sticker on a contactless reader. Sheetz will begin to sell the First Data GO-Tag solution at all of its 350 locations across the U.S. by the end of July.

The First Data GO-Tag solution allows consumers to use contactless payment technology to make purchases easier and faster. The GO-Tag solution deployed by Sheetz is configured as an open-loop, reloadable prepaid payment sticker and can be used wherever Visa payWave is accepted. For those merchant locations that do not accept contactless payments, the GO-Tag solution includes a separate magnetic-stripe Visa prepaid card.

“We are pleased to partner with Sheetz on providing consumers a more innovative way to pay for their purchases,” said Barry McCarthy, general manager of Mobile Commerce and Point of Sale Solutions at First Data. “With First Data’s GO-Tag solution, Sheetz customers no longer have to carry cash or go through the hassles of storing loose change. By simply tapping their GO-Tag on a contactless reader, the transaction is completed instantly – no waiting or signature required.”

Sheetz convenience stores operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina. As one of America’s fastest growing convenience store chains, Sheetz is committed to using technology to enhance the customer experience whether it is their award-winning menu items ordered through unique touch-screen order points, Wi-Fi access in most locations, or contactless payment options at the pump.

“We are always looking for ways to improve the in-store experience for our customers by making purchases faster and more convenient,” said Louie Sheetz, executive vice president, Sheetz marketing. “This new GO-Tag technology will make things easier for customers, as well as for our store employees. We are excited to be among the first retailers to implement this system.”

Innovations in contactless technology are creating new payment form factors for consumers and furthering the migration of payments from paper to electronic. The GO-Tag solution can virtually eliminate the need to carry cash for purchases. Consumers have the flexibility to place the contactless payment sticker on anything that they routinely carry, such as an employee badge, student ID or other personal item. To learn more about the First Data GO-Tag solution, go to

About Sheetz

Established in 1952 in Altoona, Pennsylvania, Sheetz, Inc. is one of America’s fastest growing family-owned and operated convenience store chains, with more than $4.9 billion revenue for 2008 and more than 12,000 employees. The company operates more than 350 convenience locations throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina. Sheetz provides an award-winning menu of MTO® subs, sandwiches and salads, which are ordered through unique touch-screen order point terminals. Sheetz currently ranks 82nd on the Forbes list of largest private companies and has ranked for seven consecutive years on the list of Best Places to work in Pennsylvania. All Sheetz convenience stores are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For more information, visit

About First Data

First Data powers the global economy by making it easy, fast and secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services using virtually any form of electronic payment. Whether the choice of payment is a gift card, a credit or debit card or a check, First Data securely processes the transaction and harnesses the power of the data to deliver intelligence and insight for millions of merchant locations and thousands of card issuers in 36 countries. For more information, visit


Media Contacts:
First Data
Elizabeth Grice, 303-967-8526

From The Street

: Mad About Options: The Master of Cards

The Mad About Options crew discusses FastMoney's take on Mastercard and offers options strategies for traders and investors.

HSBC Bringing Biz Banking to iPhone


Global bank HSBC is now offering its business internet banking services to UK customers using the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch.

HSBC claims to be the first financial institution to offer this type of service on these mobile devices in the UK. The bank launched the service for BlackBerry devices in October last year.

Thanks to the new service, the bank's 325,000 business internet banking customers with an iPhone or iPod Touch can securely monitor their financial transactions, make payments of up to £100,000 per day, apply for overdrafts and set up and manage pensions.

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RFID Allows V/MC to Track Users - That's LBS

RFID-Enabled Phones Could Let Credit Card Companies Track Users | Threat Level |

RFID-Enabled Phones Could Let Credit Card Companies Track Users | by Kim Zetter |

An Ericsson executive says all new mobile phones sold in 2010 will include an RFID chip that will allow owners to open their car or house door with their phone. A handy feature, no doubt, for some people. But the executive says the chip might also be used by credit card companies to track the location of cardholders to cut down on fraud.

HÃ¥kan Djuphammar, vice president of systems architecture for Ericsson, speaking at a conference in Stockholm this week, said credit card companies could make use of mobile user location data and IP mapping to determine if the owner of a card is in the same location where a card transaction is taking place.

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Social Networking Can Cost You

Users of social network sites may be far more vulnerable to financial loss, identity theft and malware infection than they realize, according to new research from Internet security firm Webroot.

The research consulted over 1,100 users of the most popular social network sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter.  Here's the Press Release:

Webroot® Survey Reveals Social Networkers’ Risky Behaviors

Two-thirds share personal information with strangers – knowingly or unknowingly

Members of online social networks may be more vulnerable to financial loss, identity theft and malware infection than they realize, according to a new survey from Webroot, a leading provider of Internet security software for the consumer, enterprise and SMB markets.

Surveying over 1,100 members of Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter and other popular social networks, Webroot uncovered numerous behaviors that put social networkers’ identities and wallets at risk. Among the highlights:

  • Two-thirds of respondents don’t restrict any details of their personal profile from being visible through a public search engine like Google;
  • Over half aren’t sure who can see their profile;
  • About one third include at least three pieces of personally identifiable information;
  • Over one third use the same password across multiple sites; and
  • One quarter accept “friend requests” from strangers

“The growth of social networks presents hackers with a huge target. The amount of time spent on communities like Facebook last year grew at three times the rate of overall Internet growth,” said Mike Kronenberg, chief technology officer of Webroot’s Consumer business. “Three in ten people Webroot polled experienced a security attack through a social network in the past year, including identity theft, malware infection, spam, unauthorized password changes and “friend in distress” money-stealing scams. The first step to staying protected is being aware of what the threats are and knowing how to help prevent them.”

Social Networks Present New Opportunities for Cybercriminals
Cybercriminals employ various types of trickery and malware to capitalize on risky behaviors. One common tactic is phishing, which hackers use to entice victims into downloading an infected file, visiting a disreputable site outside the social network, or wiring money to a “friend in distress.”

In recent months, Webroot has seen an increase in these types of attacks on social networks, including “Trojan-MyBlot,” which targeted users of, and others targeting Facebook users including “Koobface” and several spread through the domains “,” “” and “”

“Hackers lure users into taking actions they shouldn’t by making it appear as if a friend within their social network has sent them a message – only the message is from a hacker who’s hijacked the friend’s account,” continued Kronenberg. “We’ve seen instances where a salacious yet poorly worded message like, ‘This video of u is evrywhere’ includes a link that, when clicked, prompts the user to download a seemingly legitimate file which, once on your PC, can do a number of things -- spam your friends, monitor your online activity or record your personal information.”

Hackers can also use less sophisticated means to execute attacks on social networks: The Webroot survey respondents who reported experiencing identity theft, a hijacked account and unauthorized username or password changes may have been victimized by hackers who were able to access their profiles and guess their passwords based on the personal information they included.

Results indicate a general lack of awareness of the security risks on social networks and the tools available to protect personal information, as well as higher rates of risky behaviors exhibited by younger social networkers.

Social networkers make private information public:

  • 80 percent allow at least part of their profiles to be searchable through Google or other public search engines; 66 percent don’t restrict any profile information from being visible through public search
  • Over half (59 percent) of respondents aren’t sure who can see their profile
  • Over one quarter (28 percent) accept friend requests from strangers; of those, one third (36 percent) do not cloak any of their profile information
  • About one third (32 percent) include at least three pieces of identifiable information

Privacy concerns outweigh protective actions:

  • 78 percent expressed some concern over the privacy of the information they share in their profiles
  • However, 36 percent use the same password across multiple sites
  • And 30 percent do not have adequate protection against viruses and spyware

Younger users take more risks – 18-29 year olds are more likely to:

  • Use the same password across multiple sites (51 percent, versus 36 percent overall)
  • Accept a friend request from a stranger (40 percent, versus 28 percent overall)
  • Share more personal information that may compromise online privacy (67 percent share birth date, versus 52 percent overall; 62 percent share home town, versus 50 percent overall; 45 percent share employer, versus 35 percent overall)
  • Experience a security attack (nearly 40 percent, versus 30 percent overall)

Tips for Safe Social Networking
Webroot recommends the following actions to protect privacy and prevent threats on social networks.

  • Guard your personal information – Use privacy settings to restrict who can see your sensitive information, or consider omitting all personal information from your profile
  • Be skeptical -- E-mails, friend requests, Web site links and other items from sources you do not know could be laced with malware
  • Choose passwords wisely -- Use different passwords for each of your sites; select a randomized combination of numbers and letters
  • Have antivirus and antispyware protection – Even if you think you’re not infected, scan your machine for dormant viruses with a free scan; and protect your PC with an Internet security suite that includes antivirus, antispyware, and firewall technologies
  • Always install updates – If you’re already using antimalware software, be sure to install updates which include the latest malware definitions; do the same with updates to your operating system
  • Even with security in place, remain vigilant – Malware authors are continually writing new programs to avoid detection, so pay close attention to suspicious behavior

Webroot offers several comprehensive Internet security solutions for consumers including Webroot® AntiVirus with AntiSpyware, and Webroot Internet Security Essentials. For more information about these and other products, please visit

Webroot, a Boulder, Colorado-based company provides industry-leading security solutions to consumers, enterprises and small to medium-sized businesses worldwide. For more information visit or call 800.772.9383.

©2009 Webroot Software, Inc. All rights reserved. Webroot is a registered trademark of Webroot Software, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks are properties of their respective owners.

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PrePaid Card Regulation Next?

Should Prepaid Cards Be Regulated? -

Credit cards, debit cards and gift cards are due to face tighter regulations in the coming months thanks to a new credit-card law signed by President Barack Obama, but one piece of plastic is flying under the regulatory radar.

Prepaid reloadable cards, payment cards that aren’t tethered to a traditional bank account, won’t get the same regulatory scrutiny under the recently enacted
Credit Card Act of 2009.

Between 2003 and 2007, prepaid transactions jumped from less than $5 billion a year to somewhere between $39 billion and $113 billion, according to industry estimates

Consumer advocates want to change that. They are urging the Federal Reserve to strengthen guidelines affecting prepaid cards from companies such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Green Dot Corp., NetSpend Corp. and H&R Block Inc. while the Obama administration’s focus remains concentrated on regulating the credit-card and banking industries.

Unlike credit cards, prepaid reloadable cards aren’t covered by the federal statutes that protect credit-card holders from fraud or limit their losses when cards are lost or stolen. Though many prepaid card companies do offer some consumer protections, they do so voluntarily.

Though the new credit-card laws don’t oblige the Fed to weigh in on prepaid cards, it could choose to issue regulations. The Fed added consumer protections to payroll cards in July 2007, for example.

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, , , , eClips's '08 Numbers in First 5 Months of '09

Michelle Megna, from writes that the sour economy has resulted in a boom for eCoupons which have eClipsed last years numbers already...

E-Coupon Use Growing at Rapid Clip

A whole new demographic is digging digital coupons, spurring huge growth in the online coupon category.
By Michelle Megna:

Online coupon sites saw strong growth for the month of May, signaling a trend being spurred on both by the recession as well as by the "modern" digital coupon demographic.

The coupon category posted a particularly strong month, surging 19 percent to 34.7 million visitors to lead as the top-gaining category in May, according to a comScore (NASDAQ: SCOR) study released today researching traffic at the top 50 Web properties.

Coupons Inc., which includes, captured the top position in the category with more than 15 million visitors, a gain of 85 percent from the previous month. ranked second with 3.8 million visitors, followed by with 3.5 million visitors.

The news comes at a time when online coupon use is experiencing unprecedented growth, as a new generation of bargain hunters -- those who do not subscribe to newspapers or clip physical coupons -- turn to the Internet for the convenience and vast selection realized by the digital format. just announced that in five months, the savings printed on its digital coupon network in 2009 surpassed the $313 million in value printed for all of 2008. In 2009, the value of savings printed increased 212 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the company...

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Reblog this post [with Zemanta] Latest to Accept eBillMe Expands Payment Option Offerings with eBillme

Online retailer is the latest to join the eBillme family of merchants, offering secure cash checkout.

eBillme(TM), the payment option that enables consumers and small businesses to use online banking to pay now and pay securely with available funds from their checking or savings accounts, welcomes as the latest online retailer to offer shoppers the debt-free checkout option on their site. Now Vitacost customers have access to a new way to pay without credit, fees, or interest. is the Internet's leading retailer of vitamins, nutritional supplements, herbs, natural health, beauty, and organic products, offering shoppers wholesale prices on over 22,000 products from over 900 premium brands. Consumers of natural health products can save up to 80 percent off suggested retail price.

"Our customers value the quality of our products, our service, and our everyday low prices," says Ira Kerker, CEO of Vitacost. "eBillme helps us reach more consumers by offering our shoppers a secure way to pay for their purchases without credit. We are excited to be able to bring this new method of payment to our customers, and look forward to working with eBillme to meet our customers' needs for a cash checkout option."

"Vitacost helps consumers Live Longer and Save Money," says Marwan Forzley, President and CEO of eBillme. "We are thrilled to be a part of their site and to offer our debt-free payment option that helps consumers better manage their spending habits during this recession. eBillme meets the consumer need for a debt-free checkout option without any fees or interest, and with more security and protection. We continue to help online retailers attract customers and sales with secure cash checkout."

eBillme is easy to use. When shoppers choose the option at checkout, their order is confirmed with an eBill sent to their e-mail address. Consumers simply pay the eBill through their online checking or savings account--the same way they pay utilities, loans, and other bills. The transaction occurs securely, bank to bank, with no personal or financial information required or transmitted over the Internet.

Because shoppers pay directly from their online bank account, they don't release any financial information online. This helps consumers manage their spending and debt, while better safeguarding themselves from identity theft and fraud risks. eBillme's buyer protection program takes security a step further. Provided at no cost to shoppers and retailers, the buyer protection features have the same or better level of buyer protection than premium credit cards. Protection features include a return guarantee, price guarantee, in-transit protection, and fraud protection. Consumers can shop with confidence knowing their eBillme transaction is guaranteed and protected.

About eBillme
eBillme™ is the only online payment solution that extends the convenience of online banking to the merchant's checkout, reduces the security risks of shopping online, and enables merchants to increase sales while reducing transaction costs. No financial data is exposed and the payment transaction is securely transferred from the customer's bank to the retailer's bank. Consumers can shop online, by catalog or through call centers, and pay for their purchases at their bank, credit union, or bill pay portal using the security and convenience of online banking. eBillme gives retailers access to the over 110 million Americans who use online banking. For more information, please visit or eBillme's Online Debt-Free Shopping Mall,

About Vitacost: is a leading online retailer of nutraceutical, health & wellness products offering over 22,000 products from over 900 top brands at everyday discounts of up to 80 percent off MSRP. provides 24 X 7 X 365 toll free customer service at 800-793-2601 and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Greater than 95% of orders ship the same day for the low flat rate price of $4.99. is a proud member of the prestigious INC 500 Hall of Fame, recognized as a Top 500 Retailer by Internet Retailer, and consistently ranked by Nielsen as a top converting online retailer.

Source: Company Press Release

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